Mars Petcare hails the ‘power’ of uniting brand and performance marketers

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Mars Petcare has observed powerful results from the “collaborative” relationship between the brand and performance marketers working on its new direct-to-consumer (DTC) propositions, a top marketer in the company reveals.

Over the past 18 months, the FMCG giant has launched five DTC propositions in Europe across its natural and health brands category, following the onset of Covid-19 and national lockdowns around the world.

These have included three new brands – biodegradable cat litter Natusan, sustainable cat food Lovebug and German personalized pet food Perfect Fit – as well as a new DTC platform for major UK pet food brand James Wellbeloved and a subscription kit offering for Dentastix in France.

Chris Rodi, European marketing director of natural and health brands at Mars Petcare, has led the launch of these businesses. Along the way, one key lesson he has learned is the “power” of brand and performance marketers working together, he tells Marketing Week.How brands are overcoming the ‘artificial division’ of brand and performance

“The power of brand marketers working with the performance marketing team is greater than the sum of its parts. There’s really a mutuality in that relationship that I think we’re appreciating more and more,” Rodi says.

“It works because you’re following the consumer all the way from awareness through to conversion, which is something we weren’t historically doing through reach-based penetration advertising, which we are now doing.”

Advertising focused on building brand equity unsurprisingly drives up DTC searches, which is an additional advantage, benefiting the customer acquisition team. While the brand team have also gleaned valuable insight from the rapidly iterating performance advertising team on the messages and visuals driving the most conversation and lowest customer acquisition cost.

“Instilled in that is useful insight that can help the equity team work out which messages and visuals might drive more cut through in their advertising,” Rodi says.

For example, the brand team for James Wellbeloved worked together with the content manager and acquisition manager in the business’s DTC team to run a set of creative sprints testing different branding, images and claims to get a data-based understanding of what drives the best rate.

They need to work together, and by working together that’s where the magic happens.

Chris Rodi, Mars Petcare

Not only have these tests resulted in a reduction in cost per acquisition of 57%, they have also given the brand the “DNA” of the best performing ad, which the brand marketing team can use as inspiration to help “sharpen” some of its “core equity content”, Rodi explains.

“So the insights from the performance marketing team in their content development is helping the brand equity team. There’s a real mutually beneficial relationship between working really collaboratively, sharing and working together on that,” he says.

Rodi adds that any discussion around whether performance marketing or brand marketing is more important is redundant, as both are “critical” in reality.

“They need to work together, and by working together that’s where the magic happens,” he says.The 2022 Agenda: Breaking down the wall between brand and performance

At the end of last year, breaking down the wall between brand and performance marketing was identified by Marketing Week as one of the key challenges and opportunities that will shape marketers’ roles in the year ahead.

Frustrated with the marketing world for creating this “artificial division”, Tom Roach, expert and vice-president of brand planning at Jellyfish called for its end in July. “It’s not a split, it’s a balance,” he said.

Indeed, last year offered signs of a rebalancing beginning to take effect. Discovery, Gousto, Rightmove and Airbnb were just some of the brands to have looked towards brand advertising to deliver performance results in 2021, while Marks & Spencer and Next are two businesses to have banked on digital media to build their brands as well as drive trade .

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